Current Issue

STEM Education News

July 2, 2015

In this issue:


National News & Opinion

House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Hosts First Mark Up in Years
Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

Recently, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) marked up its FY 2016 spending bill. This is the first time in three years that the Subcommittee held an official hearing to mark up the annual appropriations bill. Even full Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) declared, “This is a rare day that we have this bill to be considered,” and while Democrats and Republicans did not agree on the overall spending outlined in the bill, the relaxed banter back and forth among the Subcommittee’s leadership was markedly different than the tone of Subcommittee deliberations in the past several Congresses. Chairman Tom Cole’s (R-OK) opening remarks highlighted the increases in the LHHS bill which, according to him, focus on “advancing biomedical research, protect public health and ensur[ing] quality education services for those most in need across our country.” The bill that was voted out of Subcommittee on a straight party-line vote and includes $153 billion in discretionary funding, which is a reduction of $3.7 billion below the FY 2015 enacted level and $14.6 billion below the President’s FY 2016 budget request.

According to the Majority’s press release, “Funding within the bill is targeted to proven programs with the most national benefit…while the bill reduces funding in lower-priority areas, and cuts ineffective or wasteful programs and agencies.” For the Department of Education this means a drastic $2.8 billion cut in its programs and the proposed elimination of more than 25 programs, but also some proposed increases in targeted areas, such as special education state grants, Head Start and programs that help first generation students prepare for college. Programs that were zeroed out included many high-profile Obama administration priorities, such as School Improvement State Grants, Investing in Innovation (i3) and Preschool Development Grants. Ranking Member DeLauro referred to the LHHS bill as the “People’s Bill”, noting that the bill “is about providing the people we represent the opportunity they need to get ahead in life. The programs that we fund level the playing field for low-income children looking to learn. Yet the majority has chosen this bill to bear the brunt of the cuts.” DeLauro also emphasized her concern about the number of policy riders attached to the bill and concluded by lamenting the “woefully” underfunded allocation for the entire bill.
View an archived webcast of the mark up.
View the draft bill.

View the FY 2016 Budget Chart.

Arne Duncan Discusses His Disappointment in Cuts to Education Budget via Twitter Video
Click Here to Watch.

U.S. Department of Education Approves ESEA Flexibility Renewal for 7 States, D.C.
U.S. Department of Education Press Office,

Building on the significant progress seen in America’s schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education announced recently that Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have each received multiple years of continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

These states and D.C. are implementing comprehensive state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student.

“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal – getting every student in America college- and career-ready.”
Read More.

How NASA Broke the Gender Barrier in STEM
By Melissa Jun Rowley

For The First Time, Half of the Astronaut Class is Women, and Now NASA is Offering New Opportunities for Female Tech Entrepreneurs.
The notorious lack of women in leadership roles in STEM seems to run rampant everywhere—everywhere except NASA, an administration that not only puts women at the helm, but continually gives them a platform to drive the larger conversation around the need for more women in the sciences.

Case in point: Dr. Ellen Stofan serves as the chief scientist of NASA. Deborah Diaz is NASA’s chief technology officer for IT. Teresa Vanhooser runs one of NASA’s largest facilities in the U.S. responsible for building rockets.

Dr. Tara Ruttley manages the science programs aboard the International Space Station. For the first time, half of an astronaut class consists of women. And now, through the convening of a new user community called Datanaut Corps, NASA is unlocking opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the tech and maker communities to use the agency’s infinite gigabytes of open data to pioneer space-inspired data science.
Read More.

A Vision For Teacher Training At MIT: West Point Meets Bell Labs
By Claudio Sanchez, NPR

For decades, Arthur Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, has tried to imagine a new kind of institution for training teachers. He envisions a combination West Point and Bell Labs, where researchers could study alongside future educators, learning what works and what’s effective in the classroom. That idea is now set to become a reality.

This week, Levine and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation announced a $30 million partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the goal of creating a better model for teacher training.
Read More.

Dow and Smithsonian Science Education Center Partner to Develop High Quality Teachers
By Sara Steele and Ashley Deese

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) and the Smithsonian Science Education Center announced today they will collaborate on The Dow Smithsonian Teacher Scholar Program. The program is designed to enhance teachers’ skills related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education by providing tools, resources and new learning experiences in fields such as earth history, biodiversity or energy.

The 6-day program will host 32 teachers in Washington, D.C. and is part of the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATs). After the experience, participants will take their excitement and new skills back to the classroom, while receiving continued support from local peer participants and the Dow STEM Ambassador program. STEM Ambassadors support teachers and inspire students by providing real life examples to make challenging concepts easier to understand, while incorporating a strong focus on sharing exciting opportunities available through pursuing STEM careers.
Read More.

From the States

Iowa: Ryan Wise appointed Iowa education director, By William Petroski, The Des Moines Register

Georgia: Sandy Springs Education Force Awards $17,000 In STEM Grants, By Kristal Dixon, Sandy Springs Patch

Idaho: STEM supporters step up effort to improve math, science education, By Bill Roberts, Idaho Statesman


STEM Think Tank and Conference – July 8th – 10th
The Think Tank and Conference will bring together national leaders in K12 education for girls and young women (independent, public, charter, and parochial), university K12 outreach coordinators and researchers, STEM university faculty, girls’ informal educators, and members of industry. Please plan to attend if you teach or work with girls and young women in a STEM field. Our conference theme will allow us to discuss and learn more from each of these groups, translating lessons learned across the lives of females. Learn More.

Check out the Triangle Coalition for STEM Education full calendar of STEM events.